Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Autonomous Vehicles

Elon Musk, The Elder Statesman Of The Auto Industry?

Ah, the callow and cocksure Elon Musk, the bad boy gamer from Silicon Valley, the brash, iconoclastic upstart who dares to challenge the time-tested titans of transportation! Would that be the same Elon Musk who recently became the longest-serving CEO in the global auto industry?

Originally published on EVANNEX.
by Charles Morris

Ah, the callow and cocksure Elon Musk, the bad boy gamer from Silicon Valley, the brash, iconoclastic upstart who dares to challenge the time-tested titans of transportation! Would that be the same Elon Musk who recently became the longest-serving CEO in the global auto industry?

Photo of Elon Musk at Tesla Model Y unveiling by Chanan Bos, CleanTechnica

As Simon Alvarez writes in Teslarati (drawing on reporting from Benzinga), Elon Musk, who took office as Tesla’s CEO in 2008 (he joined the company as Chairman of the Board in 2004), became the elder statesman of the automotive world in May, when Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, who had held the top job at the German automaker since 2006, announced his retirement.

This was the latest of several recent transfers of power in the metal-bending game: Carlos Ghosn, the longtime CEO of the Renault-Nissan alliance, was forced to resign in January, due to his alleged connection with a financial scandal (some suspicious minds speculate that he was forced out because he was a champion of electric vehicles). Mitsubishi and Hyundai also saw turnover in their executive suites earlier this year. BMW’s Harald Krüger recently announced that he will soon be stepping down (his successor, Oliver Zipse, is seen as a bit more of an EV advocate).

A look back at Elon Musk in the early days of Tesla when he was profiled in the Revenge of the Electric Car film (YouTube: PBS)

Volkswagen’s Herbert Diess has held the reins only since 2018, when the Dirty Diesel Debacle wrought havoc in the German giant’s executive suite. Fiat Chrysler head Michael Manley followed the late Sergio Marchionne, a long-serving CEO (and an outspoken EV skeptic) in 2018.

The second-longest tenure in the car biz is held by Akio Toyoda, who has been the boss at Toyota since 2009. No other head of a major automaker has been on the job more than a few years. Ford’s Jim Hackett took the con in 2017, and GM’s Mary Barra, the only woman with a corner office, has served since 2014.

The anti-Tesla herd seems to crow every time an employee leaves the company, but Elon Musk is far from the only exec who’s held on through the ups and downs. JB Straubel has been with Tesla since the beginning (though, is just now leaving the CTO position while remaining on loosely as a senior adviser), Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen joined the company in 2008, and President of Automotive Jerome Guillen came on board in 2010. Numerous other execs, including CFO Zach Kirkhorn, have been with the company since the days of the Roadster.

Those who imagine that competition from the legacy automakers will sink Tesla can’t seem to understand the fundamental difference between the California company and its curmudgeonly counterparts: Tesla exists to build electric vehicles, and it won’t stray from that quest. Other automakers follow the winds of fashion, and will build whatever’s profitable (or required by regulations) at any given moment. Elon Musk’s personal story reflects this difference of mission: other CEOs are hired guns who may decide to go to another company for a better pay package (after all, a hundred million bucks doesn’t buy what it used to). Elon Musk is Tesla. It’s his ship, and he’ll guide it to its ultimate destination, or go down with it.

 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
 

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Advertisement
 
Written By

We publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people, organizations, agencies, and companies.

Comments

You May Also Like

Energy Storage

In just one year — from 2020 to 2021 — utility-scale battery storage capacity in the United States tripled, jumping from 1.4 to 4.6...

Cars

The latest survey from JD Power and Associates on the EV charging experience rates the Tesla Supercharger network #1.

Clean Transport

Buick just released their new ad campaign, which features some creative marketing to convey a vision for future female Buick ownership. However, innovative AI...

Clean Transport

As the global economy emerges from the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic, EVs are a growth driver and are projected to have potential for...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.